Comsol, backed by Convergence Partners, Nedbank Private Equity and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) as investment partners , has launched Comsol Fibre Connect, South Africa’s first and only nationwide open access high-speed carrier grade data network.
The network will connect enterprises in both major metros and small towns. The transaction sees the Private Equity business of Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking (NCIB), becoming a 25% shareholder in Comsol, alongside existing shareholders Convergence Partners and the management team of Comsol.
Comsol Fibre Connect offers the best of the fibre and wireless worlds, allowing Telco’s, carriers and service providers to connect their customers with speeds from 2-Mbps up to 1-Gbps in just six working days. The combination of a fibre optic backbone with a high-speed, fully licensed wireless infrastructure provides near blanket coverage of metros, cities and district councils.
The key advantage of Comsol Fibre Connect is that customers are guaranteed connectivity of a high capacity, uncontended product, underpinned by a carrier grade service level agreement.
The first elements of the network have already been rolled out and are fully operational, with the bulk of the rollout anticipated to be concluded by the end of the year.
The initial funding which equates to over half a billion Randwill be provided by Convergence Partners, Nedbank Private Equity and the IDC. In addition to the funding raised for the initial rollout, Comsol expects to reinvest and spend a further R1-billion on existing fibre infrastructure and leased fibre, creating a massive opportunity for existing fibre players in the market.
“With the advent of Big Data, Internet of Things and cloud-based business applications and the increasing need for companies to use high-speed connectivity, the requirement for high-speed internet access is growing across businesses of all sizes and in all sectors. Whether an office in a CBD, a platinum mine in an outlying area, or a retail branch in a small town, a robust fast, efficient network is essential to growing and maintaining business operations,” says Iain Stevenson, CEO of Comsol.
He adds that despite the investments made into fibre networks, they are not yet far-reaching enough, take too long to deploy and are extremely expensive for the provider to build everywhere. Comsol Fibre Connect will not only allow companies to access the speeds and quality of fibre connectivity in much faster deployment times at a lower cost, but it also offers true coverage for the majority of businesses across the country – even those with branches in outlying areas.
“For many years, wireless and other technologies were associated with being contended and unstable. Now, with advances in new milimetre wave spectrum technologies and the abundance of fibre backbone available and capillary network, businesses have the means to tap into a mixed medium, fully licensed capacity that enjoys the same quality, speed and reliability that, to date, fibre-only solutions could previously deliver”, Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of Convergence Partners says.
Natasha Haslam of the IDC says, ” it fits perfectly in to aiding our strategy of increasing penetration of high-speed connectivity and reducing costs through infrastructure sharing. It is hoped that this network will enhance communications for businesses in underserviced areas and aid in narrowing the digital divide.”
In addition to its extensive coverage in the major metros, cities and district councils, Comsol will connect over 200 towns and cities across the country via Comsol Fibre Connect. Deployment in outlying areas has begun, with majority of towns to be connected by December this year.
“We are pleased to be working alongside the experienced management team of Comsol and co-investors Convergence Partners, a longstanding partner of the Nedbank Group. We are excited about Comsol’s prospects and the rollout of Comsol Fibre Connect, particularly of the ability for their network to reach previously inaccessible areas“, says Clive Howell, Head of Nedbank Private Equity.
Behind the Scenes: Comsol
Comsol Networks (Pty) Limited (“Comsol”) is a recognised market leader and specialises in building customised terrestrial wireless access infrastructure for companies, government entities and parastatals of all sizes, across all sectors.
Since its inception in 1997 Comsol has installed thousands of wireless connections across the African continent. Comsol has several licenses including an Individual Electronic Communication Network Services (I-ECNS) Licence, Individual Electronic Communication Services (I-ECS) License and, more importantly, several highly sought-after and strategic national spectrum licenses issued by ICASA.
Comsol Fibre Network will be an open access, carrier grade network. It will be available through major telcos, carriers, ISP and content providers. Comsol Fibre Connect is medium agnostic, combining the best of fibre and high capacity, licensed band wireless technologies to offer products ranging from 2-Mbps up to 1-Gbps.
Comsol is owned by Convergence Partners and Nedbank with the balance of the equity held by executive management. The company has a Level Two BBBEE rating, which comes from a mix of equity holding, procurement policies, enterprise development and corporate social investment projects.
Comsol is managed by a strong executive team of individuals whose joint experience in both business development and the telecommunications market totals more than 65 years.
Find out more at www.comsol.co.za
Founded in 2006, Convergence Partners is an investment management firm focused on the telecommunications, media and technology sector in Africa. Convergence Partners has a proven track record of developing new investment opportunities, as well as adding value to investments across the life cycle of ICT assets.
Across both its portfolios, Convergence Partners currently manages close to US$300 million of capital. Convergence Partners’ founders are seasoned pan-African private equity players, experienced in sourcing, developing and managing investments that deliver enhanced financial returns while underpinning continental development.
Find out more at: http://www.convergencepartners.com
Nedbank Private Equity
Nedbank Private Equity (“NPE”) is a private equity investor in Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking (NCIB), which is part of the Nedbank Group Limited. NPE adopts a partnership philosophy to investing, combined with uncompromising moral and ethical standards.
NPE’s core focus is to invest capital in acquisitions, buyouts and expansion of mid-market unlisted companies, which have an established track record of profitability and exhibit strong earnings growth prospects.
While NPE operates like an independent private equity fund manager, it invests capital directly off Nedbank Group’s balance sheet, which ensures the advantage of not being constrained by the usual investment and disposal time horizon pressures of a fund. NPE has successfully invested in a wide range of sectors and companies.
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